NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – May 14, 2022

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – May 14, 2022

The Panthers eliminate the Capitals while the Rangers and Stars extend their respective first-round series to Game 7, the Ted Lindsay Award finalists are announced, Bruce Boudreau returns as Canucks coach and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: For the first time since 1996, the Florida Panthers are advancing to the second round of the Stanley Cup playoffs. Carter Verhaeghe’s overtime goal lifted Florida to 4-3 victory over the Washington Capitals in Game 6 to take their first-round series four games to two. Claude Giroux had a goal and two assists while Sergei Bobrovsky stopped 34 shots for the win. Washington’s T.J. Oshie scored to force overtime in the third period after his Capitals squandered 1-0 and 2-1 leads.

Florida Panthers forward Carter Verhaeghe (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Verhaeghe was the Panthers’ most valuable player in this series, leading them with six goals and six assists for 12 points and tallying three straight game-winning goals.

Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin shared the view of his teammates that they gave away the series after blowing a 2-1 series lead and failing to hold leads in the final three games. “It’s on us. It’s on me, on Backy (Nicklas Backstrom), on Osh (Oshie), on Carly (John Carlson), it’s on everybody. Kind of a f**ked up situation,” said Ovechkin.

The absence of power forward Tom Wilson was another contributing factor to the Capitals’ loss. He was sidelined by a lower-body injury in Game 1 and never returned to the series.

There will be a seventh and deciding game in the opening round series between the New York Rangers and Pittsburgh Penguins. Mika Zibanejad and Chris Kreider each scored twice and Adam Fox collected four assists in Game 6 as New York rallied to beat Pittsburgh 5-3. The Penguins led 2-0 after the first period but fell behind 3-2 before Evgeni Malkin tied it before the end of the second. Kreider got the game-winner late in the third and Andrew Copp added the insurance goal. Game 7 goes Sunday in New York.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Pittsburgh captain Sidney Crosby missed this game with an upper-body injury and remains questionable for Game 7. Rickard Rakell remained out of this contest as he’s still recovering from a concussion suffered in Game 1.

With starter Tristan Jarry finally healthy, Penguins coach Mike Sullivan must decide if he’ll put him in for that final game or stick with Louis Domingue, who’s carried the load since taking over for a sidelined Casey DeSmith during overtime in Game 1. Jarry is the better goalie but he hasn’t played since suffering a foot injury in mid-April. Domingue’s done his best but he has given up some questionable goals for the Penguins.

The Dallas Stars ensured there will be a seventh game against the Calgary Flames with a 4-2 victory in Game 6 of their series. Jake Oettinger kicked out 36 shots, Roope Hintz got a goal and an assist and Miro Heiskanen scored the game-winner for the Stars. Flames defenseman Michael Stone had a goal and an assist. The series returns to Calgary for Game 7 on Sunday.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Stars got it done by outshooting the Flames 30-20 in the final two periods and another outstanding performance by Oettinger, especially in the third period. Flames defenseman Nikita Zadorov could face supplemental discipline after he laid out Stars forward Luke Glendening with an elbow to the head.

HEADLINES

NHLPA.COM: Nashville Predators captain Roman Josi, Toronto Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews and Edmonton Oilers captain Connor McDavid are the 2022 finalists for the Ted Lindsay Award as this season’s most valuable player as voted by the NHLPA membership.

THE PROVINCE: Bruce Boudreau will return next season as the head coach of the Vancouver Canucks. Boudreau explained the delay in exercising the option year of his contract was due to personal arrangements, including the well-being of his 90-year-old mother in Toronto.

EDMONTON JOURNAL: Oilers star Leon Draisaitl could be nursing an injured right ankle or knee as he and his teammates prepared to face the Los Angeles Kings in Game 7 of their opening-round series tonight.

CAP FRIENDLY: A $100K performance bonus for Tyler Bozak has pushed the St. Louis Blues salary-cap bonus overage to $1.1 million. Bozak could earn another $150K bonus if the Blues reach the conference final.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Bonus overages are applied to next season’s salary-cap payroll.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – May 12, 2022

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – May 12, 2022

The Rangers stave off elimination, the Panthers and Flames take 3-2 leads in their opening-round series, the Calder Trophy finalists are announced and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: The New York Rangers avoided elimination from their first-round series with the Pittsburgh Penguins with a 5-3 victory. Filip Chytil snapped a 3-3 tie with a power-play goal early in the third period while Igor Shesterkin made 29 saves as the Rangers overcame a 2-0 deficit in the second period with three straight goals. Jake Guentzel tallied twice for the Penguins. Game 6 is in Pittsburgh on Friday with the Penguins holding a 3-2 series lead.

Pittsburgh Penguins captain Sidney Crosby (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Hanging over this game was the departure of Penguins captain Sidney Crosby in the second period after receiving an unpenalized elbow to the head by Rangers defenseman Jacob Trouba. Until that moment, the Penguins were controlling the game with a 2-0 lead. The Rangers tallied three straight times after Crosby’s departure.

Crosby has a well-documented history of concussions. Pittsburgh coach Mike Sullivan said he was still being evaluated. It would be a significant blow for the Penguins if their captain is sidelined from this series.

Sullivan was obviously displeased by Trouba’s actions during the postgame press conference but maintained his composure. “Did you see the hit?”, he said when questioned by a reporter. “You probably have the same opinion as I do.”

The Florida Panthers overcame a 3-0 deficit to defeat the Washington Capitals 5-3 in Game 5 of their opening-round series. Carter Verhaeghe lead the way with two goals and three assists while Claude Giroux netted the insurance goal and Sergei Bobrovsky stopped 30 shots. T.J. Oshie tallied twice for the Capitals, who are on the brink of elimination as the series returns to Washington for Game 6 on Friday.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: During a post-game interview, Capitals center Nicklas Backstrom said his club gave this game away. He’s not wrong. They seemed to have this game under control early in the second period up 3-0 but soon gave up three unanswered goals in that period that shifted the momentum in the Panthers’ favor.

Three unanswered third-period goals lifted the Calgary Flames to a 3-1 win over the Dallas Stars in Game 5 of their series. Calgary forwards Andrew Mangiapane and Mikael Backlund each had a goal and an assist. Stars netminder Jake Oettinger made 29 saves. With the win, the Flames hold a 3-2 lead and can finish off the Stars in Game 6 on Friday.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Flames have been the better team for most of this series. Oettinger is the reason the Stars have won two of five games thus far. He leads all playoff starters with a .956 save percentage while his 1.63 goals-against average is tied for second with Colorado’s Darcy Kuemper. Unless he gets more goal support from his teammates, however, this series could be over on Friday.

HEADLINES

NHL.COM: Toronto Maple Leafs winger Michael Bunting, Anaheim Ducks center Trevor Zegras and Detroit Red Wings defenseman Moritz Seider are the finalists for the Calder Memorial Trophy as NHL rookie of the year.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: These three have promising NHL futures. Seider is considered the favorite, leading all rookies in ice time per game (23:02) and power-play points (21) while finishing fourth in scoring with 50 points.

SPORTSNET: Boston Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy anticipated Hampus Lindholm will return to action for Game 6 against the Carolina Hurricanes tonight. The defenseman has been sidelined since Game 2 following a bit hit from Hurricanes winger Andrei Svechnikov.

NHL.COM: Edmonton Oilers defenseman Darnell Nurse received a one-game suspension by the department of player safety for head-butting Los Angeles Kings center Phillip Danault in Game 5 on Tuesday. Oilers winger Zack Kassian, meanwhile, received a $5,000.00 fine for cross-checking Kings defenseman Sean Durzi.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Nurse’s undisciplined actions could prove costly to his team. Down three games to two and facing elimination by the Kings, the Oilers enter the most crucial game of their season without their best defenseman.

THE PROVINCE: Bruce Boudreau is expected to finalize details of his return behind the Vancouver Canucks’ bench by as early as next week. Hired in December with the Canucks at the bottom of the standings, the club went 32-15-10 under Boudreau’s coaching and narrowly missed the postseason.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: There was concern Boudreau could hit the open market this summer if he declined the option year in his contract by the June 1 deadline. President of hockey operations Jim Rutherford recently said the club wanted to bring him back under that deal.

NHL.COM: The Anaheim Ducks announced Joel Bouchard has been relieved of his duties as head coach of their AHL affiliate in San Diego. Assistant coaches Daniel Jacob and Max Talbot were also let go. Meanwhile, Ducks assistant coach Geoff Ward has left the club for personal reasons.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Before heading to San Deigo, Bouchard spent three seasons as head coach of the Montreal Canadiens AHL affiliate in Laval. It’ll be interesting to see if he ends up returning to the Canadiens’ organization in some capacity.










NHL Rumor Mill – May 4, 2022

NHL Rumor Mill – May 4, 2022

A look at some of the notable off-season issues facing the Canucks and Flyers in today’s NHL rumor mill.

THE ATHLETIC: Thomas Drance took note of Vancouver Canucks hockey operations president Jim Rutherford’s willingness to play contract hardball with popular head coach Bruce Boudreau. Rutherford told a season-ending press conference yesterday that the team would like to bring the bench boss back on his current contract rather than on an extension. Boudreau’s current deal has an option for next season which he can opt out of by June 1.

Vancouver Canucks head coach Bruce Boudreau (NHL.com)

Drance suggested it was a risky move by Rutherford. He pointed out Boudreau’s coaching stock is sky-high right now following the fine work he did in reverse the Canucks’ sinking fortunes when he took over from Travis Green last December. The Flyers and Vegas Golden Knights are two possible destinations if Boudreau decides to leave.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: As I pointed out in this morning’s headlines update, Rutherford’s decision gives the impression he’d prefer to bring in a coach of his own choice. He inherited Boudreau, who was hired three days prior.

Rutherford said the Canucks want to bring Boudreau back and the latter has indicated he’d like to stay in Vancouver. It’ll be interesting to see how this shakes out. It’s now up to Boudreau.

Meanwhile, Drance’s colleague Rick Dhaliwal tweeted that J.T. Miller’s agent Brian Bartlett said his client has made re-signing with Vancouver one of his goals. He wants to help the club go forward and would be happy to sign a contract extension this summer.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Miller’s been the subject of considerable trade speculation this season. He’s a year away from UFA status and coming off a career-best 99-point season.

Miller is in line for a substantial raise over his $5.25 million annual cap hit. Whether a suitable agreement can be found with a Canucks management looking to bring in younger and affordable talent should ensure the 29-year-old center remains a fixture in the NHL rumor mill.

THE ATHLETIC: Charlie O’Connor reports Philadelphia Flyers general manager Chuck Fletcher is hoping to replicate his 2019 offseason success this summer. Back then, Fletcher hired Alain Vigneault as head coach, acquired and signed center Kevin Hayes, swapped Radko Gudas for Matt Niskanen and acquired Justin Braun to bolster the blueline. He also traded down in the first round of the 2019 draft to select Cam York and used an extra second-round pick to select promising Bobby Brink.

Following that blueliner, O’Connor believes Fletcher will attempt one big acquisition, more of a traditional hockey trade (player-for-player) and a smaller buy using B-tier assets. He’ll also need to hire a new head coach.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: O’Connor also speculates that Fletcher will look toward a healthy Ryan Ellis and Sean Couturier and the improvement of key players between 23 and 26 already on the roster. He’ll also look to the incoming prospects (like Brink) to further improve their depth.

One big problem for Fletcher is the Flyers’ limited cap space for 2022-23. O’Connor pointed out they have about $8.9 million to address their roster issues. He anticipates that will shrink to $5 million once they re-sign restricted free agents like Owen Tippett, Morgan Frost and Zack MacEwen.

That’s prompted recent speculation suggesting defenseman Ivan Provorov ($6.75 million through 2024-25) or winger Travis Konecny ($5.5 million) could become trade bait. One of them could be swapped for a player with a comparable salary or shed in a cost-cutting deal to free up cap space to pursue free-agent talent.

Whatever Fletcher does this summer, he has to avoid repeating his miscues of the last two offseasons. His moves must at least turn the Flyers back into playoff contenders again. Otherwise, he could find himself unemployed by this time next year.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – May 3, 2022

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – May 3, 2022

The opening night of the Stanley Cup playoffs saw the Leafs shut out the Lightning, the Kings upset the Oilers, the Blues blank the Wild & the Hurricanes tame the Bruins. Details and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: Auston Matthew scored twice in a three-point performance and Jack Campbell made 24 saves as the Toronto Maple Leafs shut out the defending Stanley Cup champion Tampa Bay Lightning 5-0 in Game 1 of their best-of-seven opening-round series. Mitch Marner scored to snap an 18-game playoff goal drought and collected two assists. Leafs forward Kyle Clifford was ejected from the game in the first period for boarding Lightning forward Ross Colton.

Toronto Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This was total domination by the Leafs. They out-skated and outworked the Lightning, who were stymied on the power play and gave up too many odd-man rushes. This lopsided defeat could spark a better effort from the Lightning in Game 2, but the Leafs deserve full marks for their strong effort in this series-opening contest.

A turnover by Edmonton Oilers goaltender Mike Smith led to Phillip Danault’s game-winning goal as the Los Angeles Kings got a 4-3 upset win in Game 1 of their opening-round series. The Kings jumped to an early 2-0 lead but the Oilers bounced back on goals by Connor McDavid and Kailer Yamamoto. Kings netminder Jonathan Quick made 37 saves for the win while Trevor Moore had a goal and two assists. Kings forward Viktor Arvidsson (undisclosed) missed this game.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I don’t know what Smith was thinking but attempting to pass the puck up the middle from behind his own net rather than chipping it up along the boards was a big mistake. Quick was outstanding for the Kings, showing the form that backstopped his club to two Stanley Cups.

St. Louis Blues winger David Perron tallied a hat trick while Ville Husso had a 37-save shutout to blank the Minnesota Wild 4-0 in the first game of their opening-round series. Perron finished with four points while Torey Krug collected three assists. It was reported the league will review a nasty downward cross-check by Wild captain Jared Spurgeon across the ankle of Blues winger Pavel Buchenich.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Wild controlled the play for most of this game, out-shooting and out-chancing the Blues. Husso, however, proved up to the challenge in his first-ever NHL playoff game while his teammates capitalized on their chances, including two power-play goals.

Third-period goals by Teuvo Teravainen, Vincent Trocheck and Andrei Svechnikov carried the Carolina Hurricanes to a series-opening 5-1 victory in Game 1 against the Boston Bruins. Backup Antti Raanta kicked out 35 shots for the win.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Raanta was superb between the pipes as this game went along, shaking off what appeared to be a nervous start with several big saves as the Bruins pressed to open the scoring. The Hurricanes will need more of that from him as starter Frederik Andersen could remain sidelined for Game 2 with a sprained knee.

HEADLINES

DAILY FACEOFF: The Philadelphia Flyers will be moving on from interim head coach Mike Yeo as they’ll search for a new bench boss. Yeo took over from Alain Vigneault when the latter was fired in December.

WINNIPEG SUN: The Jets are also searching for a new head coach, though interim Dave Lowry will have the opportunity to interview for the job. Lowry replaced Paul Maurice when the latter resigned in December. Associate coach Jamie Kompon and assistant coach Charlie Huddy face uncertain futures.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: No surprise the Flyers and Jets will be seeking new coaches given their disappointing performances this season.

VANCOUVER HOCKEY NOW: Bruce Boudreau is confident he’ll be returning next season as the Canucks’ head coach. The club missed the playoffs but made significant improvement after he took over behind the bench in December. Boudreau said he’s spoken with Canucks management and is hopeful a contract can be worked out.

TSN: Nashville Predators goaltender Juuse Saros (left leg injury) will miss the first two games of his club’s opening-round series with the Colorado Avalanche.

TRIBLIVE.COM: Pittsburgh Penguins winger Jason Zucker has been cleared to play in Game 1 of his club’s first-round series with the New York Rangers. Zucker was sidelined on April 26 with an undisclosed injury.

DETROIT HOCKEY NOW: Red Wings forward Lucas Raymond will no longer be participating in the upcoming World Championships for his native Sweden as originally planned. His father, Jean Raymond, and his agent, Peter Werner, explained the rigors of his first NHL season took more physical and mental energy than expected. “My advice to Lucas was to listen to his mind and body,” said Werner. “He needs this time to during the summer to recharge the batteries.”










NHL Rumor Mill – April 4, 2022

NHL Rumor Mill – April 4, 2022

In today’s NHL Rumor Mill, more trade chatter about Canadiens goalie Carey Price plus more speculation about Bruce Boudreau’s future as coach of the Canucks.

MONTREAL HOCKEY NOW: Marco D’Amico wondered if the Canadiens would trade Carey Price if the 34-year-old goaltender returned to play this season and proved healthy enough to continue his career. He cited Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman making that speculation during a recent “32 Thoughts” podcast, suggesting there’s a chance Price could be playing elsewhere next season.

Montreal Canadiens goaltender Carey Price (NHL Images).

D’Amico observed Canadiens general manager Kent Hughes saying Price’s return this season depends on his health. The veteran netminder remains sidelined recovering from knee surgery last July. During a January press conference, Price was adamant about remaining with the Canadiens.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Canadiens have 13 games remaining in their schedule, with their final game on April 29. That doesn’t leave much time for Price to return to game shape and be in suitable condition to play a few games before the end of this season. If he hasn’t returned to full practice with his teammates by mid-month, he probably won’t be getting in any games before the end of this month.

D’Amico noted Price waived his no-movement clause during last summer’s Seattle Expansion Draft. He did so in order for the Canadiens to protect Jake Allen in last summer’s expansion draft. He and then-Habs general manager Marc Bergevin correctly assumed the Kraken didn’t want to be saddled with his $10.5 million annual average value through 2025-26.

Price could waive his NMC for the right club this summer but moving him won’t be easy. It’s unlikely a potential suitor would agree to take on his full cap hit unless the Canadiens took back a toxic contract or two to balance it out.

The more likely scenario would see the Canadiens retaining 50 percent of his cap hit to facilitate a trade. Even a three-team deal spreading the cap hit around would still involve the Habs retaining half of his salary given that’s been the benchmark for similar recent deals.

THE PROVINCE: Ben Kuzma believes Vancouver Canucks coach Bruce Boudreau’s ability to get the most out of veterans such as J.T. Miller and youngster stars like Elias Pettersson “should be applauded and rewarded”. The Canucks have an option year on Boudreau’s contract but he also has the option to walk away.

Kuzma pointed out that Miller has come to appreciate Boudreau. If the Canucks intend on extending Miller’s contract, it would make sense to keep their head coach in the fold.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Miller is enjoying a career-best 82-point performance this season. He might be more inclined to remain a Canuck beyond 2022-23 if Boudreau stays on as their bench boss.










Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – April 3, 2022

Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – April 3, 2022

In today’s NHL rumor roundup, Johnny Gaudreau’s on-ice success this season could affect his contract talks with the Flames plus Canucks coach Bruce Boudreau is among several notable bench bosses in line for new contracts.

CALGARY HOCKEY NOW: Steve Macfarlane recently reported speculation that the Flames could trade Johnny Gaudreau over his contract status didn’t disappear until the March trade deadline passed. The 28-year-old left winger is slated to become an unrestricted free agent this summer unless he and the Flames reach an agreement on a contract extension.

Calgary Flames left wing Johnny Gaudreau (NHL Images).

Flames general manager Brad Treliving wants to sign Gaudreau long-term but the winger’s performance this season will make him expensive to retain. He’s earning an annual salary-cap hit of $6.75 million on his current deal. Gaudreau currently sits fourth among the league’s leading scorers with 92 points (with over 70 of those points at even strength) and was named the league’s second star for March 2022.

Both sides are keeping mum on the status of their contract negotiations. Nevertheless, Macfarlane believes Gaudreau is in line for a massive raise on his next deal.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: How massive? It could be an annual average value of $10 million on an eight-year deal. Barring injury, Goudreau’s going to break his previous career-high of 99 points and could be in the range of 110 points before the end of this season. He’s appeared in all 68 games for the Flames this season, garnering praise from head coach Darryl Sutter for his checking and all-around performance.

Treliving wants to keep Gaudreau and by all accounts, he and his wife love Calgary and want to stay put. $10 million annually over eight years could be what it takes to get it done.

SPORTSNET: Jeff Marek listed 11 full-time or interim coaches are on contracts that expire at the end of this season. They include the Anaheim Ducks’ Dallas Eakins, Chicago Blackhawks’ Derek King, Detroit Red Wings’ Jeff Blashill, Dallas Stars’ Rick Bowness, Edmonton Oilers’ Jay Woodcroft, Florida Panthers’ Andrew Brunette, Montreal Canadiens’ Martin St. Louis, Nashville Predators’ John Hynes, Philadelphia Flyers’ Mike Yeo, Vancouver Canucks’ Bruce Boudreau and the Winnipeg Jets’ Dave Lowry.

Marek expects this summer could be a turbulent one among the NHL coaching fraternity. Elliotte Friedman reported that Boudreau is on a one-year contract with an option for next season. If they don’t keep him, there’s a payment that goes to him. Boudreau can also opt out though he wouldn’t get that payment if he does.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’ll be interesting to see how all these situations unfold.

Eakins was hired by the predecessor of the Ducks’ new general manager Pat Verbeek. He might have designs on bringing in his own bench boss. The Red Wings showed improvement this season but their second-half collapse has Detroit fans and pundits calling for Blashill to be fired. Detroit GM Steve Yzerman recently indicated he’ll meet with Blashill after this season to discuss his future.

The Blackhawks improved when King took over in November but their roster still needs work. Whether he’ll be part of the rebuild is anyone’s guess right now. Securing a playoff berth could earn Bowness an extension. The Oilers’ improvement since Woodcroft replaced Dave Tippett could turn him into their full-time coach next season.

Brunette’s done a fine job with the Panthers since taking over after Joel Quenneville stepped down last fall. A deep playoff run should ensure his return on a multi-year contract. Canadiens GM Kent Hughes recently said he’d like St. Louis to return as their full-time coach. The Predators’ better-than-expected effort this season could extend Hynes’ tenure behind their bench.

The Flyers’ sad decline this season could lead to a rebuild that probably won’t include Yeo. Boudreau’s done a good job with the Canucks since taking over from Travis Green last fall. I wouldn’t be surprised if they pick up the option year. Lowry could end up replaced if the Jets fail to reach the postseason.